Airbus expects to secure in excess of 200 orders for its A350XWB twin-jet by year-end, and says 2007 “is going to be the year of the A350”.

“Right now, I’ve got 100 [original] A350 firm orders in our order book. By the end of this year, they will either have to be converted to XWB or they’ll have to be cancelled,” Airbus chief operating officer commercial John Leahy said today in a press conference.


He is confident these deals will be confirmed, noting that nobody has cancelled to date.

The company is also hopeful of firming up orders with US companies. “Right now we have US carriers and leasing companies in our firm order book – International Lease Finance (ILFC), CIT and US Airways. And I would certainly hope that all of them are A350XWB customers in the not too distant future.”

Apart from its 100 standing orders for the original A350, Airbus today announced a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Qatar Airways to supply the Middle Eastern carrier with a total 80 A350XWBs, including 20 A350-1000s, 40 A350-900s and 20 A350-800s.

This order, which will make Qatar the launch customer of the A350-1000, is a “very heavily negotiated MOU…it is very close to a full purchase agreement. [We’re] hopeful in the not too distant future be able to sign full purchase agreement,” says Leahy.

Singapore Airlines in July 2006 signed a letter of intent to purchase 20 A350XWBs. Leahy says Airbus is “close to finalizing a purchase agreement for that”.

Finnair in March became the first A350 customer to reconfirm its order as the new XWB variant. It increased its commitment to 11 of the type.